MR. TITO: The Rock is a Bandwagon Rider for the WWE That HEEL Roman Reigns Built

As I watched the Rock call the fine people of Utah as “trailer park trash” as the rest of the Bloodline just stared at him while the Rock hogged their built-up spotlight, I was just cringing. Everything involving this heel turn of the Rock has not been natural and he’s been playing the part of the heel, not naturally becoming a heel. Since the Rock left the WWE during 2004, he’s been pushing a squeaky clean image and as a man of the people, especially the further he got away from his 2011-2013 WWE run.

But now, because he’s a TKO Board Member and has incentive in making the WWE money, he thinks that listening to loyal WWE fans is justifying his heel run. Calling them “Cody Crybabies” or now insulting the audience anywhere he goes is what to do. Yet, it’s a 180 from the person he has presented himself as for the past 10 years.

Compare that to Roman Reigns. WWE spent most of 2014 through early 2020 to make him a babyface clone of John Cena. It failed, year after year, yet the WWE kept shoving him down our throats. Deep down, you could tell Roman Reigns was uncomfortable with fulfilling Vince McMahon’s wet dream (no, wrong one) of creating another John Cena babyface. When Roman Reigns came back during August 2020, he was ready to attack that fan resentment.

However, Roman’s heel turn was gradual and was telling a story… First, he obtains Paul Heyman as a manager and Roman starts to act differently. Then, he starts cutting promos that aren’t as scripted and he shows real disdain for his opponents. Jey Uso confronts Roman and establishes concern for how Roman is humiliating the family. This begins the Bloodline storyline that builds and builds, adding members such as the returning Jimmy Uso, who had a struggle in joining the stable, along with Solo Sikoa. Then, 2022 arrives and Triple H takes the group into an entirely different direction with the addition of Sami Zayn and that storyline did nothing but draw for much of 2023 to cause internal turmoil within the Bloodline.

Roman has built himself as a mob boss and is actually similar to how Ric Flair was with the Four Horsemen. Flair was champion, and his minions would always find a way to interfere to help Flair retain the title. Solo has been repeatedly interfering in Roman’s matches, which tells fans that without the interference, Roman could be beat on any given night. THAT has kept Cody Rhodes fans really believing in Cody for his 2024 push, and hence the online riots when Cody briefly lost his Wrestlemania 40 match against Roman.

THAT is what the Rock is overlooking by inserting himself back into the WWE fold as a full blown heel.

Had the Rock simply just challenged Roman Reigns to a match after Wrestlemania 40, possibly redoing the year-long build like he did with John Cena for Wrestlemania 28, then fans would have been perfectly fine with it. No, the WWE had Cody Rhodes win the Royal Rumble Match and then during the week, he lets the Rock take his match with Roman. After the internet went bonkers on this decision, over-reacting in many ways too, WWE flipped its decision during the week after to revert back to Cody vs. Rock.

YET, Rock is thinking that the heat is on him and it has gone to his head that he should be a heel again, insomuch that it is stealing the spotlight of Roman Reigns who was WWE’s #1 heel of the company.

No, invested fans who believed in WWE’s long-term storytelling WERE PISSED that their time was wasted. They aren’t mad at the Rock, but mad at the knee-jerk reaction that caused Wrestlemania 40’s plans to be changed. Then, you have fans like me, who hate the knee-jerk reaction after the initial knee-jerk reaction to change WM’s main event back to Cody vs. Roman. THAT is what pissed me off. You can’t sell me consistently told long-term stories and then get into booking-on-the-fly mode. Wrestlemania booking should NEVER be half-assed, as that is the company’s top show and it shouldn’t look like a disorganized hot mess.

Things are going to get messy because the Bloodline, and especially Roman Reigns looking like a Beta in the group, and letting the Rock hog their spotlight. The second I saw Roman go silent as the Rock walked up to Cody during the Las Vegas rebooking extravaganza, I knew that Roman’s 3 and a half year work to be the #1 heel was doomed. The Rock isn’t going to be a running mate to Roman, no way, especially with Rock having a say as a TKO Board Member and owning $30 million worth of shares that he was awarded. Ohhhhhh no.

Roman and the Bloodline just stood there as the Rock was cutting a promo, like a bunch of followers. You go from pushing Roman Reigns as the top Alpha of the entire WWE, with everyone chasing him as WWE champ to playing 2nd fiddle and accepting the role as a Beta for the Rock.

Reminds me of post-Wrestlemania 17 when Steve Austin was a heel and WWE Champion. Instead of doing his own thing, he teams up with Triple H. Huh? Not only does he team up with him, he’s becoming the Beta of the pair as Triple H, despite Austin being WWE Champ, is the more ruthless out of the two heels. Austin’s heel turn was a disaster in 2001 because of his pairing with Triple H and he did improve after HHH tore his quad. However, any growth Austin could have received after turning heel didn’t matter because the WCW/ECW Invasion angle was about to hijack and ruin everything.

Some of you tried to compare the Rock’s heel turn with Hulk Hogan from 1996. No way, not even close. For one, WCW was a small company and would triple in size once the NWO arrived and drew in more fans. Secondly, Hulk Hogan was an already established WCW star and had been there for almost 2 years. The babyface run was wearing thin and you could really see that by early 1996, especially at that Uncensored 1996 Pay Per View event. Then, Hogan took a few months off in order to be the shocking surprise 3rd man of the Scott Hall and Kevin Nash team. It wasn’t just Hogan who was over, it was the cool angle that Hall and Nash started.

Here’s the Rock’s build… He appears on edition of WWE Smackdown and mentions “head of the table”, and that gets everyone excited because it appears that the Rock will one day appear. Everyone was 100% behind this promo and excited at the possibility of the Rock finally getting a match with Roman. Probably at Wrestlemania 41, as WWE had Royal Rumble plans set in motion. Cody Rhodes wins the Royal Rumble, but during the week before, Vince McMahon’s lawsuit drops days after WWE announces their new deal with Netflix and having the Rock join TKO’s Board of Directors. After winning the Rumble, Cody points to Roman Reigns’s skybox instead of pointing at Seth Rollins.

However, thanks to the Vince McMahon lawsuit getting worse and worse, plans begin to change with Endeavor and TKO corporations wanting to divert attention.

On WWE Smackdown, instead of challenging the Rock, Cody stands down and hands the Rock his match. Ouch.

Many online fans go nuclear, including harassing the Rock’s daughter on Social Media, and the WWE over-reacts again by changing the match back to Cody vs. Roman. Instead of having a babyface move of the Rock just saying to Cody “my bad, I’m sorry that I took your rightful match” and then potentially helping Cody at Wrestlemania 40 fend off the Bloodline interference, the Rock, WWE, and Endeavor/TKO opted to lean into this supposed online reaction.

In just 2 weeks, the Rock acts like a squeaky clean super hero that everyone has seen in films, television shows, appearances with or without charities, and on special occasions with the WWE… The Rock is now the #1 heel.

That doesn’t make sense.

And the drawing power of the newly turned HEEL Rock is overrated because thanks to the past 2 years of booking and pushing Roman Reigns and the Bloodline, THAT is what grew the WWE’s business significantly to this point. Rock is joining it at the back-end with better Creative already in place and being surrounded with a better roster of superstars.

But my main issue is devaluing Roman Reigns. Rock is hogging the spotlight and not allowing Roman to be Roman. This might sound crazy, but Roman has been the BEST heel that I’ve ever seen on WWE television besides Vince McMahon’s 1998 character and Bobby Heenan as a manager. Macho Man Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, and even CM Punk have played great heels, but nobody has drawn as an incredibly strong heel main eventer as Roman Reigns has. For over the last 3 years, WWE has grown from hitting rock bottom during COVID 2020 to a mega force that just convinced Netflix to invest $5 billion over 10 years.

To overpush the Rock to negate what Roman Reigns built, as a heel, is ridiculous.

Furthermore, Roman took over 3 years to build this Bloodline dynasty and helped the WWE re-establish their company as a hot ticket to attend and regrow demand to buy WWE merchandise. Roman did that… During 2019-2020, WWE Smackdown on FOX’s Network television was beginning to struggle to maintain 2 million viewers and that is absurd because FOX reaches about 115 million households. Roman turns heel, becomes champion, and pushes the Bloodline storyline, and Smackdown not only maintains 2 million easily, but often pushes above the 2.5 million mark with Roman.

Yet, the WWE wants to scrap 3+ years of build-up for Roman Reigns to become the #1 heel star in order to push the Rock even harder as the #1 heel in just 2 weeks. Huh?

And yes, I know WWE eventually wants to turn Roman Reigns back into a babyface… Maybe having him go up against the Rock will draw. Probably will…

But you cannot just cause 3+ years of storylines come to a screeching halt because the Rock suddenly wants to participate in WWE again.

And he’s not THAT big of a star, or else Black Adam would have have made more than $168 million domestically with a budget reportedly around $200 million with $100 million additional spent to market this 38% Rotten Tomatoes rated film. Young Rock was cancelled due to low ratings, and that was was all about him and his past life. Then, you have his acquisition of the XFL which bombed and was forced to merge with the USFL to become the UFL. I’ll predict it right now… Lower brand football in the Spring will NEVER draw.

Rock is a likeable guy, always a cheerful personality when he does interviews, and has had a great life and overall career. In a Pro Wrestling context, he’s a guy in his 50s that is great in smaller doses but ineffective, thanks to age and not dedicating himself physically again to being a good in-ring worker, when used in larger doses. Roman is great because he’s kept himself limited on television and kept special by wrestling mostly the biggest shows of the year. LESS IS MORE, but when Roman wrestles, the matches are always great. Rock’s matches against John Cena for 2012 and 2013 along with his 2 matches against CM Punk during 2013 were very subpar. That was 10 years ago, and Cena/Punk had great matches with other wrestlers during those years.

My fear is that the WWE, thanks to its chaotic booking, has reduced the value of not just Rock vs. Roman, but Cody vs. Roman. The Rock being inserted into Wrestlemania 40, then being removed, but now leaning into the heel role to outshine Roman Reigns takes everything the WWE has built up with the Bloodline and Cody Rhodes and throws it out the window. The way that Roman is just staying silent while the Rock now speaks for him is ridiculous. ROMAN DESERVES BETTER.

The Rock needs to act like a Board Member to attend scheduled or unscheduled meetings, with other board members, as needed and let the managers of the company handle the operations. Your role is to hold management accountable and give them overall direction, not get directly involved as a performing talent. Now you’re impaired, because your TKO Board decisions will attempt to favor your in-ring character. THAT was my issue with Triple H being a wrestler and an EVP of Talent/Creative/Live Events during the 2010s. Ditto for the Young Bucks/Kenny Omega in AEW as EVPs while still wrestling. WCW’s downfall seeds were planted during November 1996 when Eric Bischoff joined the NWO as an on-screen character and he began losing focus as an executive of that company. Stop trying to wear too many damn hats and micro-managing everything in your favor!

To make it easier, let’s compare it to the Rock’s previous heel turns…

1) Nation of Domination. Fans, for months, rejected the overpushed Rocky Maivia. So, after Rock went away with an injury for a few months, he returned later during 1997 to join the Nation of Domination. Fans rejected his previous character for months, so he got revenge and slowly developed “the Rock” character.

2) Corporate Rock. Fans tried to turn him babyface through and following SummerSlam 1998, but the booking turned him heel and the Corporation helped him win the Survivor Series 1998 tournament. This was to make him heel and have him wrestle Stone Cold Steve Austin.

3) Hollywood Rock. Rock was babyface from late 1999 through late 2002, he was running his catchphrases into the ground. Plus, he’d disappear for periods of time to film movies and fans seemed to not like that… Thus, during early 2003, he turned heel and probably had one of his best personas as a cocky Hollywood star. He looked different (slimmer, shaved head), but was hilarious yet ruthless on the mic.

Each of those 3 turns had a build-up or a prolonged rejection of the Rock as a WRESTLING character. Furthermore, we didn’t know Dwayne Johnson that much outside of the ring as we do now.

This TKO Board Member heel character is one that we’ve only seen for weeks, and that was built on top of the Rock appearing as a generous and public relations savvy guy for the past 10 years. It’s not the same…

And he’s a part-timer hogging up the spotlight of full-time WWE performers. And an OLDER part-timer.

I don’t know folks… While I could see the Rock’s new character working, I’m disappointed in how it has reduced the value of Roman Reigns. Roman rebuilt this company for the past 3+ years only for the Rock to spike the football and enjoy the riches of it. Rock is now the Alpha of the Bloodline, as Roman now just stares on as the Beta and is lowering himself to be the equal of the other Bloodline members.

Remember when we were all talking about Roman Reigns‘s lengthy World Title reigns? That talk has kind of disappeared… Rock is now in town.

Furthermore, until I see Rock showing up more often for the post-Wrestlemania months of May, June, and July, I can see Rock living up to the part-time role and not being around as much soon. Then what? Roman has been devalued as the #1 heel and the way Rock speaks about Cody reminds me of Stephanie shaming Daniel Bryan during 2013 as the “B+ Player”.

Babyface Roman vs. Heel Rock just doesn’t feel as cool as the prize of Rock challenging Roman to be the “Head of the Table”. You know, that feeling we all had during January 2024? Last month, remember?

Cody Crybabies? How about Rock Apologists? They are far worse because they 100% believe that 51 soon-to-be 52 year old Dwayne Johnson is going to appear often after Wrestlemania 40 and if he wrestles, perform better than his 2011-2013 subpar performances. You are out of your minds… He’ll get more movie roles, while many other projects of his, like the UFL starting soon, will take up his time.

Anyone supporting the idea of pushing this HEEL Rock to the moon is totally disrespectful of what Roman Reigns has built as a heel main eventer. Furthermore, how can you think that “Rock is drawing” for the WWE when the WWE was already growing anyway in spite of the Rock?

It’s EMBARRASING to see Roman Reigns, the #1 heel of the company for the past 3+ years, having to play second fiddle to someone who desperately needs the spotlight after a few failed movies, a cancelled TV show, and a failed football league. Roman deserves better.

I know, the WWE marks will tell me that either (a) Rock will turn on the Bloodline during Wrestlemania 40 or (b) Roman will turn on the Rock… Blah, blah, blah, blah…

BUT THE FACT remains that Wrestlemania 40 would have been perfectly fine without the Rock injecting himself. The damn event sold out tickets BEFORE the Rock became the TKO Board Member and was ever booked in that match. THAT’S A FACT… Roman vs. Cody #2 was going to draw just fine without the Rock.

Now, Wrestlemania 40 is all about “what will the Rock do?” instead of giving flowers to Roman Reigns for making the WWE into a powerhouse again and for Cody Rhodes having a great comeback to the WWE since 2022. Both of those guys, along with Triple H’s return role in Creative, have helped this company boom for the past 2 years and now the Rock is merely hopping on that bandwagon.

The Rock needs WWE more for publicity than the WWE needed the Rock, at all, to keep growing their business. They were fine without him.

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